The greatest historical treasure we have discovered as to A.A. History and 2012 just came to light.
During our January, 2012 series of talks, visits and personal meetings in Southern California, we spent precious time with Pastor Frank Geoy, Jr. on the subject of Bill Wilson's acceptance of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at the altar at Calvary Mission in New York in early December, 1935.
Now we have more confirming details.
Recall the series of events that preceded Bill's answsering the altar call at Calvary Mission.
First, Dr. William D. Silkworth had told Bill that if he didn't quit drinking, he would die or go insane. But he also told Biill that the Great Physician Jesus Christ could cure him of his alcoholism. The details are covered and documented in Bill's autobiography ("Bill W., M y First 40 Years), and in Dale Mitchel's biography of Dr. Silkwortth. Both recenttly published by Hazelden.
Then came Ebby Thacher. Ebby had long been a drunken friend of Bill's. But Ebby had been to the altar at Calvary Mission just before his famous visit with Bill in Bill's home. Ebby told Bill he had been staying at CalvalryMission, had "got religion," had been to the altar and gave his life to Christ; and Bill could not only see that Ebby was sober, but also born again.
Bill then went to Shoemaker's church to hear Ebby''s testimony and be sure Ebby wes telling it straight. This convinced Bill that maybe the Great Physician could help him too if he went to the Mission and did as Ebby had done.
Bill then went to Calvary Mission. The services included testimony, the phrase "Jesus Saves," and Bible reading and prayer by the leaders. Then came the altar call. And Bill went forward and knelt in prayer.
We just learned of another witness to Bill's ensuing acceptance of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. First, Mrs. Samuel M. Shoemaker told me on the phone that she was present when Bill made his decision for Jesus Christ, Second, years later, in a speech by Lois Wilson, recorded in Texas, Bill's wife said that Bill had really and with all sincereity handed his life over to Jesus Christ. To cap it off, Bill wrote in his own biography "For sure I'd been born again." He also wrote his brother in law that he had "got religion."
Then came the delightful surprise we had in our interview with Pastor Frank. Frank told us that Ben Armstrong (President of the National Religious Broadcasters for 22 years) had been an intern of Sam Shoemaker's at Calvary Church. Ben Armstrong declared that he was present when Bill accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at Calvary Mission
To cap it off, A.A.'s General Services Conference-approved 4th edition of the Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous states in Bill's own words on page 191: " Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me curing me of this terrible disease that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people."
And now we know the fact of Bill's new birth at Calvary Mission in New York--confirmed by Rev. Samuel Shoemaker's wife (Shoemaker being Rector ov Calvary Church), Bill's wife Lolis, and Ben Armstrong of National Religious Broadcasters
January 18, 2012, Dick B., Writer, Historian, Retired attorney, Bible student and an active recovered A.A. member with over 25 years of continuous sobriety. Author of 42 books and over 800 articles on A.A. History.